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Slippery slopes

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BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Unlike the men’s U.S. Open a few weeks ago at Bethpage Black, the women can expect to find drier, firmer conditions this week at Saucon Valley Country Club’s Old Course. The 100 percent hybrid bent greens, which present a big enough problem already because of all the humps and bumps on them, are running in the low 13s on the Stimpmeter, a full point higher than they expected coming into the week.
Players at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open can count on a roller-coaster of a ride starting Thursday.

“You’ve got some wonderful humps and ridges through the greens where you can play your ball to certain parts [of the green], almost to the fall line, and it will fall right to the hole location,” said Mike Davis, the U.S. Golf Association’s senior director of rules and competitions. “So they become very, very strategic at these speeds. It’s just a great, great set of greens.”

The USGA uses a device, invented by their people who do the testing for balls and golf clubs, which measures the firmness of the greens as well as the approach areas and fairways. The True Firm device helps the USGA maintain all 18 greens at roughly the same firmness.

“Your speed putting is one of the biggest things out on this golf course, because there are certain shots you’ll hit perfect but you’ll hit a mound, an undulation, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Paula Creamer. “You’ll just have to two-putt. There’s a lot of breaking putts, and whoever can put the ball in the right spot in the greens is going to win.”

Creamer said she’ll be looking at every possible angle to the hole when lining up her putts.

“I think Sunday afternoon after everything is done, there’s going to be a lot of mentally tired people,” said Creamer.